L-arginine: What You Need to Know

L-Arginine Benefits

How can L-arginine help? Let us count the ways.

First, it may treat disorders of urea production and waste removal. Some chemical imbalances cause the body to accumulate waste products. Depending on the chemicals involved, L-arginine can restore the balance [source: MedlinePlus].

L-arginine may also reduce symptoms of angina (chest pain) and coronary disease. Both the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic caution that more research is necessary, but L-arginine may be a good treatment for some heart patients. The supplement may also improve blood flow. For certain patients, L-arginine can help reduce blood pressure. People with blood clots, especially in the legs, may find some relief from supplemental L-arginine [source: MedlinePlus].

If you find yourself with an open wound, L-arginine may be a good alternative. People with severe burns, malnutrition and certain wasting diseases may heal more slowly, raising the risk of infection and other complications. L-arginine is promising as a treatment in these cases [sources: Medline, Drugs.com].

Some people also believe L-arginine regulates growth. Erratic or excessive growth may be a symptom of an L-arginine deficiency [source: MedlinePlus]. It may also reduce migraine pain. More research is needed, but L-arginine may work well in combination with other pain drugs such as ibuprofen [source: MedlinePlus].

As discussed in the body builder scenario on the first page, many people purport L-arginine can build muscle mass. However, L-arginine is not the miracle muscle builder some snake-oil salesmen make it out to be, but what chemical could possibly live up to all those claims? The amino acid may at least help you maintain muscle mass. Maybe.

Lastly, it may improve sexual function [source: Drugs.com]. There's some evidence that L-arginine can help with the function of body parts that rely on dilated blood vessels. That includes the sexual organs. Some think L-arginine can boost endurance -- but the jury's still out on that one, too. Before you get too excited, remember that L-arginine can't treat cases of erectile dysfunction that aren't related to blood flow. And it may not be as effective as a prescription drug -- or, for that matter, therapy.

OK, so those are the possible benefits. But can L-arginine hurt you? Yes, it can. To find out how, read on.